About Life: Concepts in Modern Biology by Paul S. Agutter, Denys N. Wheatley

By Paul S. Agutter, Denys N. Wheatley

This e-book makes use of sleek organic wisdom to take on the query of what distinguishes residing organisms from the non-living international. The authors first draw on contemporary advances in telephone and molecular biology to strengthen an account of the dwelling country that applies to all organisms (and purely to organisms). This account is then used to discover questions about evolution, the beginning of existence, and the opportunity of extraterrestrial existence. the radical procedure taken through this publication to matters in biology will curiosity and be obtainable to either the final reader in addition to scholars and experts within the box.

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For example, every litre of your arterial blood contains about a fifth of a gram of oxygen. If it contained significantly less, or significantly more, you would be seriously unwell. If you are resting rather than exerting yourself, it will take about six minutes for the mitochondria in your cells to turn that fifth of a gram of oxygen into water (remember that mitochondria do this in the process of making ATP). But in six minutes' time, and in an hour's time, and in a year's time, a litre of your arterial blood will still contain a fifth of a gram of oxygen, provided you keep breathing.

If - to revert to the box model of chapter 3 - the half-kilo of salt representing the cell's proteins had been mixed with the other solid ingredients and the appropriate volume of water (5 litres), a runny paste would have resulted. Salt is not protein but the effect is similar. Proteins are sticky molecules; they adsorb water and they adhere to each other. So the cytoplasm, minus membranes and cytoskeleton, can be pictured as a runny paste. Examined under a highvoltage electron microscope it is a loose network of thin strands, mainly water-saturated proteins.

In view of the mob of unruly components of which they are made, the potential for uncontrollable chaos, how is this apparent constancy achieved? Modern biology’s answer to this question is probably incomplete. In so far as an answer is available, we shall not be in a position to do it justice until chapter 9. We raise the question at this stage because we need to explore the idea of “internal state” before we can develop our picture of the cell further. 50 Chapter 6 Homeostasis The problem of maintaining order and apparent constancy was addressed at the whole-body level in humans and other mammals long before it was seriously considered at the cell level.

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